Fos­ter ex­cited by the ‘priv­i­lege’ of head­ing fight game’s re­turn

> Un­beaten Bri­tish boxer de­fends ti­tle against Beech > War­ren misses event in TV stu­dio with no spec­ta­tors

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Gareth A Davies

Bri­tish box­ing re­turns tonight for the first time since March 7, with five fights be­hind closed doors in east Lon­don.

Frank War­ren’s Queens­berry Pro­mo­tions and broad­cast part­ner BT Sport will de­liver the event and there will be just 65 peo­ple al­lowed in­side the broad­caster’s Stratford stu­dios.

War­ren yes­ter­day con­firmed four fur­ther shows would take place over the next seven weeks, in­clud­ing the re­turn of heavy­weights Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois, who will each head­line events.

War­ren, 68, will not be at­tend­ing tonight, due to the re­duced num­bers in “the box­ing bub­ble”. The 10 box­ers, plus train­ers, cor­ner­men, med­i­cal staff, Bri­tish Box­ing Board of Con­trol of­fi­cials and tele­vi­sion crew have been tested for Covid-19 this week be­fore go­ing into quar­an­tine at a nearby ho­tel.

“I will be watch­ing from home with a cam­era set up there for my re­ac­tions. I’m not go­ing to let my ego get in the way of us do­ing the right thing,” said War­ren. “I don’t know if this has been the most chal­leng­ing process ever – I’ve been shot and had fights with peo­ple – but it has been chal­leng­ing in that we have been in a no-man’s land be­cause of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

“But what we are at­tempt­ing to do is put on box­ing again as quickly and as safely as pos­si­ble. It is an ex­pen­sive process, we have gone over the test­ing and clean­ing in minute de­tail, and we are de­ter­mined.”

Tonight’s head­line con­test sees Brad Fos­ter, the Bri­tish and Com­mon­wealth su­per­ban­tamweight cham­pion, de­fend his ti­tles against un­beaten James Beech Jnr.

Fur­ther events are planned at the BT Sport stu­dios on July 25, July 31, Aug 20 and Aug 29, with five bouts on each card.

Fos­ter, who has worked night shifts at Tesco while train­ing ev­ery day dur­ing lock­down, head­lined one of the last cards to take place in the UK. He said yes­ter­day: “I’m just ex­cited to get in there. I fought at the end of Fe­bru­ary in the last card and July’s come round and I’m back out again. Not many peo­ple get that turn­around [even] with­out be­ing in a pan­demic, and I’ve got it while we are in a pan­demic. I’m blessed to be in this sit­u­a­tion.”

The for­mer kick boxer, un­beaten as a pro­fes­sional boxer, said: “A lot of peo­ple have asked me about no crowd. I get in the ring to win the fight, whether there’s a crowd there or not. The job is still the same. My op­po­nent is a good fighter.

“Look how much peo­ple have missed the foot­ball. I’m priv­i­leged to be the first fight back. This is an op­por­tu­nity for me to shine and show the world. There will be loads of peo­ple tun­ing in.”

It was con­firmed this week that no pro­fes­sional box­ers were tested by UK An­tiDop­ing be­tween April and June, as part of a re­duced test­ing regime, but Robert Smith, Box­ing Board gen­eral sec­re­tary, said yes­ter­day that the box­ers tak­ing part would be tested to­day. War­ren still aims to have the heavy­weight fight be­tween Dubois and Joyce in an arena on Oct 24. “Daniel and Joe re­turn­ing is ob­vi­ously huge news and sched­ul­ing these fights re­flects our grow­ing con­fi­dence that Daniel and Joe will be able to fi­nally meet on Oct 24. They both wanted these tune-up fights first.”

Dubois meets Rus­sian-born twotime Olympian Erik Pfeifer on Aug 29. Joyce takes on Ger­man Michael Wal­lisch on July 25.

Katie Tay­lor, mean­while, will de­fend her light­weight world ti­tles against Delfine Per­soon in a re­match on Aug 22, it was con­firmed by pro­moter Ed­die Hearn.

Tonight’s event is live on BT Sport 1, 7pm-10pm.

‘This is an op­por­tu­nity for me to shine and show the world. There will be loads of peo­ple tun­ing in’

Keep­ing busy: Brad Fos­ter has worked night shifts at Tesco while also train­ing for tonight’s fight

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